Graduation Year

2017

Location

Room E101, Center for Natural Sciences, Illinois Wesleyan University

Start Date

8-4-2017 10:00 AM

End Date

8-4-2017 11:00 AM

Description

Wicca is typically recognized as a feminist and queer-friendly religion embraced by many women and LGBTQ+ people. While women are undoubtedly emphasized positively, however, I argue that much of the focus is in fact a form of benevolent sexism, coming out of an essentialist understanding of women’s nature being nurturing, intuitive, and emotional. The resulting heteronormativity and its procreative focus can create an exclusionary environment for gay men and women as well as for transgender and genderfluid or non-binary individuals. My research utilizes ethnographic participantobservation of a local Wiccan coven and semi-structured qualitative interviews with Wiccans and Pagans from across the United States and England in order to explore the consequences and limitations of emphasizing Wicca as a fertility religion, where women’s power is theoretically restricted to their potential for motherhood. In doing so, I am able to gauge Wiccan practitioners’ attitudes related to gender and sexuality and explore the ways in which Wiccans are modifying their practices in order to be more inclusive.

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Apr 8th, 10:00 AM Apr 8th, 11:00 AM

Mother Goddesses and Subversive Witches: Competing Narratives of Gender Essentialism, Heteronormativity, and Queerness in Wiccan Ritual and Theology

Room E101, Center for Natural Sciences, Illinois Wesleyan University

Wicca is typically recognized as a feminist and queer-friendly religion embraced by many women and LGBTQ+ people. While women are undoubtedly emphasized positively, however, I argue that much of the focus is in fact a form of benevolent sexism, coming out of an essentialist understanding of women’s nature being nurturing, intuitive, and emotional. The resulting heteronormativity and its procreative focus can create an exclusionary environment for gay men and women as well as for transgender and genderfluid or non-binary individuals. My research utilizes ethnographic participantobservation of a local Wiccan coven and semi-structured qualitative interviews with Wiccans and Pagans from across the United States and England in order to explore the consequences and limitations of emphasizing Wicca as a fertility religion, where women’s power is theoretically restricted to their potential for motherhood. In doing so, I am able to gauge Wiccan practitioners’ attitudes related to gender and sexuality and explore the ways in which Wiccans are modifying their practices in order to be more inclusive.